A couple of months back, I noticed that I was getting irritable quickly, and angry at random things. I was quick to dismiss this as simply a manifestation of my depression, but when I was getting angry several times a day, I decided that it was time to do something about it.
Several panic attacks, visits to a therapist, doctor and finally psychiatrist later, I’ve found a combination of medication that seems to be keeping me stable–and more than that, keeping me stable at a happier level than what I was expecting. As an added bonus, I’ve lost about 20 lbs in the two months since I restarted my anti-depressant.
There are a few of underlying factors to this; first, when I’m uber depressed, I self-medicate with food. Second, one of the side effects of the anti-depressant is loss of appetite, though I feel like I more or less have my appetite back (or have gotten used to eating less food than I was before). Third, one of the medications is technically a stimulant, which, while calming my anxiety is also giving me all sorts of excess energy.
But more important than my changed eating habits, I think, is the fact that I’ve started to exercise more. Not a great deal, and nothing terribly fancy or strenuous, mostly walking. And really, it’s the exercise side of thing that I wanted to talk about today.
So, here’s what I’ve learned–and I’m not sure that’s the right phrase, this is all stuff I’ve heard repeatedly over the years, but it’s finally sunk in. Anyway.
1) It’s not a race. If I need to stop and catch my breath, it’s okay to stop and catch my breath. I was getting frustrated for a while that I wasn’t tired, but my lungs had given out. Sis has (very well controlled) asthma, and I asked her what I could do to strengthen my lungs. She talked about how when she was in high school, she was on the soccer team and played the baritone saxophone in jazz band. Her doctors told her that those two activities were the very best things she could do for her lungs. She said that when she was playing soccer, or going on a hike or something and she would start to feel the first twinge of asthma, she’d pull back a little bit until she felt better, then power through. She suggested that I do something similar. So now, when I’m starting to get winded I’ll pause for a bit, then keep going. And you know what? I’m not getting winded as easily or as often as I used to.
2) The numbers don’t really matter. Most weight loss gurus will tell you not to weigh yourself every day. I don’t think that’s necessarily sound advice, I find myself jumping on the scale a couple of times every day–but I’m not freaking out that it’s showing a few pounds heavier in the afternoon when I’m fully clothed and just eaten than it did when I got on the scale first thing in the morning before getting dressed. I’m not even concerned that the numbers might go up one day from the day before. It’s fun to see the overall downward trend of the numbers on the scale, but there are better ways to gauge weight loss–how clothes fit, for example. (I have no idea what size I am these days) I’ve known forever that muscle weighs more than fat, and I honestly think that I have less body fat than the last time the scale was showing the numbers that it is now–I know my muscles are stronger.
3) Don’t forget the water. There are days (mostly when I’ve forgotten my water bottle) when I come home from school completely wiped out. I’ll get a drink of water–and then another one, and in a little bit, I find myself feeling better. I’ve also read that sometimes when the body is craving water, it will manifest as a craving for food. I’ve noticed this in myself, when I’ve got my water bottle, I’m less likely to want sweets. Plus, when the cravings get to be too much, I can add some Crystal Lite to my water to satisfy my sweet tooth.
4) Don’t forget to eat. There was a time (three months ago) when I didn’t know how people (like my dad) could forget to eat. And now I find myself doing it. Most days, I wouldn’t have breakfast except that my morning medication needs to be taken on a full stomach–I’m still not a breakfast fan, but if I’m going to forget to eat until about 2 pm, I better have something early in the morning. And like the water issue, I’ve had days when I’ve just felt terrible, until I had something to eat.
5) Keep goals realistic. I’m not going to go from this:
and I’m okay with that.
I’m not going to run a marathon or hike the north rim of the Grand Canyon tomorrow, but if I keep working, maybe someday I’ll be able to.
6) Healthy is more important than skinny. As much as I’d love to look like Ms. Hepburn there, I’d rather be a healthy 200 lbs (and I still have a ways to go before I get down to 200 lbs) than a sickly 98 lbs. In fact, I’m viewing this whole thing more as getting healthy than losing weight–healthy mentally as well as physically.
7) Losing weight is the easy part. Keeping it off is hard. You don’t get to the size I am without trying to lose weight at least once, only to have it all come back, and then some. I read somewhere that a person who has lost weight needs 500 calories per day fewer than a person of the same size who’s never lost the weight. This same article said that people who maintain weight loss get on average one hour of moderate exercise six days a week. I’m hoping that by getting into the habit of eating right and exercising, rather than just letting the medication do the work, by the time I get down to a healthy weight, It’ll be enough of a habit that I’ll just keep going with it.
None of this is groundbreaking stuff–I know I’ve heard it all a million times before, it’s just been in the past few months that it’s started to sink in. And while I’m not, by nature, and adventurous person, this whole being healthy and happy thing is an adventure that I’m not sure I want to give up any time soon.
In a bid to make “The Storyteller Chronicles” less, well, all over the place, and at the behest of my photography teacher, I’ve started a new blog. It’s called Corianne’s Colors, and it can be found here. Corianne’s Colors will be focused on my photography and artwork. Hopefully this means I’ll be able to concentrate more on the writing side of things over here. Anyway, check it out, enjoy and let me know what you think.
Years ago, I attended a writing conference with a regionally famous author. Someone asked her how she came up with characters, and this author responded that a lot of the time she would listen for conversations in the line at the grocery store or in other public places.
I was a teenager at the time, and I found this bit of advice to be a) fairly creepy, and b) not worth much, because I lived in a small enough town that there wasn’t a great deal of variety of conversation taking place in public. And so, that bit of writing advice got tucked away in the back of my mind, where it lay alone, gathering dust.
At least, until today.
I had forgotten my phone/MP3 player, so waiting at the bus stop I was forced to *gasp* listen to the people around me. Around here, anyway, waiting for the bus involves listening to music, getting some studying or other reading in, or quiet, banal conversation with friends. Sometimes all three.
This afternoon, though, in the midst of all the common noise, there was a man arguing on his cell phone. He was far enough away that I couldn’t really hear him, except when he was getting irate with the person on the other end of the line. I noticed him first when he said “I’m the nicest guy who’s ever dated you!”
The phrase struck me enough that I wrote it down, and began trying to figure out who would say something like that. I wasn’t even thinking about the guy on the phone, I was thinking about a character in a story. And I was wondering why someone would say “I’m the nicest guy who’s ever dated you” as opposed to “I’m the nicest guy you’ve ever dated”. Not that I’d want anything to do with a guy who uttered either phrase; the nice guys I know show it through their actions, and not their words.
Now, I have to stress here, that all my time spent with psychotherapists has been on the patient side of things. I’m can’t emphasize enough that I’m not trying to analyse the guy on the phone, I’m trying to figure out who one of my characters who would say that would be. I’m looking at this from a literary point of view, not a psychological one.
The first thing that came to mind, by saying “who’s ever dated you” rather than “you’ve ever dated.” makes it all about him. The (presumable) girl on the other end of the line is an object to be acted upon, someone to be dated, not someone who dates. If I was writing this character, he would be very egocentric. Nothing is his fault, and every bad thing that happens was meant to disrupt his life and annoy him.
It’s easy to get under his skin. Because he’s not willing to admit that other people, well, quite frankly, exists in realms completely separate from his own, he takes everything personally. I imagine that this phone call was post-break up, with the girl being the one doing the dumping, and he is having a hard time accepting that she doesn’t find him as perfect as he does. While he wants to save the relationship, it’s more because he wants a pretty ornament on his arm, and a warm body in his bed than an actual relationship. He doesn’t care about her, but he needs to be the one doing the rejecting, not being rejected. I don’t think this guy would be above using…unsavory methods to get what he wanted.
Now, if my character had said “…you’ve ever dated”, he’d still be a selfish twit, but he would at least acknowledge that there are other people out there making decisions that have nothing to do with him. His girl is a person, not an object–though she still needs to be tightly controlled. He’s aware that she has interests that aren’t him, (while I’m not sure the “…dated you” guy does) even if he’s not thrilled about it. He’s nicer, but only in the way a bear is nicer than a shark.
If I were writing a romance novel, these would be the boyfriends my heroine has at the start of the story, before she meets Mr. Right. In a drama, they might stay together throughout the novel, but he’d be putting her through the ringer. A mystery might have one of our men killing the girl (or the girl getting fed up with being controlled and killing them).
I then started thinking about situations where the guy I could hear would be the hero of the piece–what could the girl on the other end of the line have done to provoke, or even deserve such ire. I came up with, well one, possible solution (She’s a con artist, who stole all his money and was in the process of fleeing the country. He’s wanted himself, so he’s not going to call the cops on her.) And maybe that’s where I need to take this little exercise next.
I really don’t have a place for either of these characters right now, so this was more of an exercise than anything else. It got me thinking about not only what my characters say, but how they say it. The way we talk reveals so much about us, and the same should be true for our characters. And truth be told, I really don’t know anything about the actual guy on the phone, except that if he were to ever ask me out, the answer would not only be no, it’d be hell no.
So, have I entered the realm of the creepy author? Does either of my readers have similar experiences, where a single overheard phrase turned into a complete character? Am I over thinking this in a bid to avoid doing homework and/or go grocery shopping? At least in regards to the last one, probably.
EDIT: I’d love to hear what you’re impressions of someone based on the lines “I’m the nicest guy who’s ever dated you” are. Are they different from mine? What about the girl on the other end of the phone? Do you have any ideas about who she might be?
Recently, a series of disasters led me to drive my loaner car to my sister’s house, to pick up a loaner computer (although, I suppose I’m very lucky to be a part of a family that has random cars and computers lying around. The good news is, at least one of the disasters has since been resolved) After spending the afternoon and night at Sis’s house, I asked her to come to my house to continue to hang out, and she agreed–even though it meant fighting a five year old and two year old all the way down. She must like me or something.
We wanted to get a Redbox movie, but G was having none of it, and several tantrums later, we both gave up on trying to have fun out in the wilds of Utah County (whoo.) and ended up back at my house. A cooling off period, and some full bellies later, I was examining my (meager) DVD collection for a film that would both keep a five year old boy’s attention, and was fairly kid-friendly. What I came up with was “The Princess Bride”. G had never seen it before, and I have to say, it was really interesting to watch what was my favorite movie when I was his age through his eyes.
The first thing I noticed was how well the movie had held up–I mean, I know that I’ve loved it for the past 25 years and it’s considered a classic, but–how do I put this?
It’s like your old, favorite sweater. The color looks great on you, it fits well and it accentuates your bust. Then one day, while wearing your favorite sweater, you happen to be watching an early season episode of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, and slightly chuckling at the fashions of your high school years. Then, you glance down and realize the sweater you’re wearing would not look out of place at Sunnydale High.
What, I’m the only one that’s happened to?
Anyway the point is, “The Princess Bride” is near enough to my heart that I wasn’t sure I had been watching it objectively as a teen and adult. But G loved it–I’ve never seen him that still when he wasn’t sleeping, sulking of seat belted down–even if he was up and down a bit. So, enough of my long, rambling, introduction: Here is “The Princess Bride”, via a five year old’s first viewing.
It didn’t really hold G’s attention until Buttercup was kidnapped and jumped off the boat, which, okay, there’s not a lot of action up to that point. He definitely lost interest when Peter Falk and Fred Savage were on screen, though he did understand that the action was part of the story the Grandpa was reading, at least a bit into the movie he asked “Is this still the story?”
My favorite part was when the Man in Black appeared for the first time. G declared definitively “He’s a bad guy.” I don’t ever remember wondering if the Man in Black was good or bad–but then, I guess I don’t remember the first time I saw “The Princess Bride”. G loved the sword fight, and said he was rooting for Inigo (I think that Inigo was his favorite character, or maybe Inigo is just my favorite character.)
I don’t think he understood the exchange between The Man in Black and Fezzick (by the way, you can tell that Andre the Giant had a blast making the movie) and Vizzini, though he did laugh at Vizzini’s death scene–which I still maintain to be the greatest death scene ever put on film. He was fascinated by the Fire Swamp, and wasn’t scared at all by the ROUSes–which scared the crap (not literally) out of me when I was a kid. I’m not sure if that was simply because he’s a boy, and more action/protection oriented than I was, or if he could tell that they were actors in rat suits where you could practically see the zipper. He was worried that Westley was all bloodied up after the battle with the ROUS, but didn’t die–“Why is his shoulder bloody? If he’s bleeding, why didn’t he die?” Ah, kids.
I know that he didn’t understand why Sis and I were laughing during the Miracle Max and Impressive Clergyman scenes, but he loved the storming of the castle, and was once again rooting for Inigo during his duel with Count Rugen.
When the movie was over, I asked him what the best part was, and he said “The sword fights”. Sis then asked if that was a movie they should watch at their house, and he agreed that it was.
So, I think it’s safe to say that S. Morgenstern’s (and I guess this Reiner guy had something to do with it, too) masterpiece has a new fan. And the fact that “The Princess Bride” is continually gaining fans in the new generation makes me happy beyond belief.
Of course, not that any kid I see on a regular basis would have had any choice but to watch “The Princess Bride” on a regular basis. So it’s a good thing he liked it.
Life has not been fun lately.
I’m having a hard time adjusting to this new semester–I like all of my classes individually, but together…I don’t know. I think part of the problem is that I am going to school six days a week, and so I don’t feel like I’ve got much time to relax.
I did start on an anti-depressant, but I had the bad luck of getting hit by a head-cold/ear infection pretty much the same time I started taking the pills, and so I’ve been headachey and dizzy, and I don’t know what’s side effects from the medicine, and what’s because I’m sick.
Emotionally, though, I’m feeling more stable, so that’s a plus. I’m not losing my temper the way that I have been, and while I’m not happy, I don’t feel hopeless.
Even with the beginnings of stability, I feel like I’m being kicked in the teeth. And it’s nothing big, it’s just the little things that keep piling up until they get overwhelming. It’s the anxiety, the frustration of trying to understand the reading, the not being able to sleep, making stupid mistakes then paying the price…. You know, life.
So, I love my Nook. I love the touch screen navigation, and the convenience of having a library at my side at all times. I love to browse the Barnes and Noble website, looking for new books. I would and have recommended the Nook vigorously to anyone who’s asked about it.
But something tells me that I may have backed the wrong horse in the eReader race…
And all of a sudden, Barnes and Noble’s financial woes become crystal clear.
This semester, I’m taking a photography class. It’s one that’s required for all art majors. I took it this semester because over the summer, I had a class with some photography majors, and they told me that UVU was switching the Photography I from a film class to a digital class. I wanted to take film photography, because I knew I could borrow Dad’s fancy film camera, but my little digital camera probably wouldn’t work for the class. The course catalogue for this semester listed Photography I as a film class, but on the first day I learned that the switch had already happened.
Drama ensued. I can’t afford a new camera, and doing research on the dSLR camera‘s I could afford I discovered that they shot in a lower resolution than the camera I already have. So I hunkered down with the instruction manual, and the syllabus, and discovered that my Canon Powershot SX100is would probably work–I emailed my instructor and she agreed, though she was concerned when she actually saw the little thing.
Anyway, my class is on Saturday. Which I actually think works, because it gives me the rest of the week to do the assignments. It’s hard going to school six days a week, but I’ll get though.
The assignment for this week was color–simply to take two colorful photos that would work well together. Of course, no photographer worth her salt would stop at just two, so here are my favorites:
These next two I almost turned in–in fact, I had turned them in, but we had a break before we got to my review, so I changed my mind, and substituted another pair. I think they’re well done, but they’re not my aesthetic, and I didn’t want to put them in my portfolio at the end of class.
So as far as color goes, I think I did well. Next week, we’re talking about composition, and taking a photography field trip around campus
Things have been rough since the semester started this week. Between the stress that comes from new classes, campus going from the ghost town it was over the summer to downtown Mumbai, coupled with some minor health concerns, life has not been fun. And the beast that is depression has reared it’s ugly head, and is determined to take it’s share.
I have an appointment to see a therapist on Wednesday, and I think I’m going to ask for some anti-depressants. I’ve noticed that I’ve been getting really angry and pissy lately–between the times when I just want to sit down and cry. I’ve been off my meds for more than a year, but I think I need something to lift me up emotionally for the time being.
To that end, last night I asked my Facebook friends to share with me what makes them happy. I did ask that they not talk about their children because, well, that biological clock is ticking pretty loudly, and hearing how other people’s kids make them happy makes it worse. I love the responses I got:
being with people
Dr Pepper (twice! I dislike Dr Pepper’s aftertaste, so I’m going to chalk this down as “a sweet treat”)
watching a favorite movie for the millionth time
reading a favorite book for a millionth time
exercising (’cause of the ice cream and Dr Pepper, I guess)
being in nature
going to the library
laughing so hard you cry
sticking your hand out the car window on a nice day
the stained glass window at the Orem Library:
(which I have to admit, I’ve never really paid attention to–this window is in the children’s book section, and when I go to the library, I’m headed off to non-fiction than the fiction section. I’ve glanced at the window, but next time I go to the library, I’ll be sure to go look at it)
Life is always better in the light of morning so I added my list:
that moment that something I’m making–be it a painting or some baking or a story or a blog post–begins to come together and I know it’s going to be awesome.
re-reading a good book
reading a good book for the first time
little dogs waiting to greet me when I come home
hummingbirds fighting at the feeder
waking up because your body tells you to, not because your alarm clock tells you to.
And of course, wonderful family and friends.
So, if you were to add to this list, what would you say? What always cheers you up? I was amazed at how therapeutic just coming up with a list was. I’d love to hear in the comments what makes you happy, but if you don’t want to share with the world, come up with one for yourself.
Yesterday was remarkable.
The fact that yesterday was so amazing leaves me with an interesting conundrum–I’ve been trying all day to organize my thoughts and feelings about what I experiences in a way that feels not preachy and interesting. The problem with these life-changing revelations is that they tend to apply only to the life of the person who experienced it.
So, yesterday, my local NPR station broadcast an extraordinary interview with a man who is both openly gay, and a faithful member–and employee of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You can hear it here. This interview led me to Wilcox’s pet project–beyond the film discussed in the interview–The Empathy First Initiative. The EFI Facebook page had this video of a TEDtalk linked to it.
First off–why had no one told me about TED? It’s amazing.
Second, I realize I just linked an hour and twenty minutes of media that, while I found utterly fascinating and life changing, others may not. What follows is what I found apropos, if you don’t want to watch and listen to those links. Or, even if you do.
So, here’s how I understood all of this. In Randall Wilcox’s discussion on what it means to be a gay Mormon, he talked about embracing his whole self. When he accepted who and what he was, he became more spiritual–contrary to what Orthodox Mormons tend to believe about homosexuality, and what it means to be gay.
The other thing Wilcox discusses beautifully is empathy. Rather than looking at a person as an object–oh, he’s gay, or she’s a democrat, or their poor–he encourages us to look beyond, to see the person who has thoughts and feelings and ideas. To not dismiss someone as an abomination or a bigot, for instance, but to try to understand their thought process and the life-experiences that led them to those conclusions.
Brene Brown’s talk is on similar lines, in that she discusses empathy as well. But what stood out to me in her talk was the notion that when we numb the negative in our lives–the pain, the depression, the vulnerabilities–we numb everything. I think I’d subconsciously come to the same conclusion, at least in regards to my depression. When I started to open up about the fact that I am depressed, and stopped pretending that everything was fine, I started to feel better.
Brown also talks about vulnerabilities–we are all vulnerable. Everybody has something that makes them vulnerable, but it’s the people who embrace their vulnerabilities who thrive, who can love and be loved, while those who try to hide their vulnerabilities struggle, blame others, and spend their lives searching for meaning.
This makes perfect sense, and it’s something that I’ve begun to put into practice. I’ve been dredging up those deep, dark places within my soul and mind, examining everything and–and I think this is the important bit–not reburying those imperfections that make me vulnerable. I’ve realized that all the self-destructive things that I do are because I feel vulnerable, and I’m trying to either hide the vulnerability, or the shame that comes from being vulnerable.
But, by embracing who I am, the dark scary parts and all, I can become a better person, one who has the capacity to love herself, and by extension, others. I feel like I’m taking the first steps on an important journey.
Now, I do understand that this is all shiny and new, and in a couple of months, the shine will probably have worn off–this post is as much a reminder to me as anything. By getting the words down, it cements the way I’m thinking or feeling. I also know that it might be too much to ask that these few words might help someone else. And you know what? I’m okay with that. Right now, me becoming a better person is all I can ask for.